Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Last Strike Zone of the Year

Last night's Game Seven was taut, with the outcome in doubt until literally the last at-bat (the Royals had the tying run at third with two outs in the ninth) and will be remembered for yet another amazing performance by Giants pitcher and Series MVP Madison Bumgarner

Fortunately, it won't be remembered for the umpires, other than the (correctly) overturned call on the acrobatic double play Joe Panik started in the third inning (aided by Eric Hosmer's dumb slide into first base - do sprinters slide headfirst across the finish line?)

Specifically, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson had a pretty good game. Here's a map of his ball-strike calls with a right-handed batter at the plate:

That's from the umpire's point of view, so the batter's on the left side. Called strikes are in red, called balls are in green. The solid line is the rulebook strike zone, while the dashed line is the strike zone as typically called by major league umpires. (They expand the strike zone a bit). There were a three calls that Nelson missed, calling a strike on the Royals that should have been a ball and a couple strikes on the Giants that were balls (one away, one down), but that's OK.

Here's his strike zone for left-handed batters, whom you should imagine standing on the right side of this diagram:

Lefties get sort of hosed by major league umpires, as their strike zone is a good bit wider than it should be, and Nelson called a lot of strikes on pitches that were outside the rulebook zone, though they were inside the zone lefty swingers usually see. So, all in all, a nice job.

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